Mid Kerry had been leading by 1-2 to 0-3 when the man they revere in the Kingdom as one of the greatest returned from SFC retirement for the first time in three years. His impact and influence was so great that even Mid Kerry genuflected for a time allowing the eastern side come within a kick of causing the biggest shock in the county championship.
“He rode in the same as anybody else,” started East Kerry manager James Sheehan before joining the congregation, “He was if not one of the greatest players, so I can’t really say anymore about him. He’s a fantastic man.”
But for Moynihan’s return, a week shy of his 38th birthday, Darran O’Sullivan and Gavan O’Grady might have run amok. Unfortunately for his side they lacked collective nous when Mid Kery were rocking.
“I thought Mid Kerry had a bit more experience than East Kerry. I thought it showed. They were there before. I really believe the experience showed in the extra time,” acknowledged Sheehan.
Those final 20 minutes were of little solace to winning manager Tim Coffey as he starts preparations to meet Dr Crokes in the final. They went in as raging hot favourites but, while O’Sullivan’s hamstring stood the test of 80 plus minutes, their failure to put their divisional opponents away leaves them with more questions than answers.
“We started very well and got a few scores but looking back on it we should have got a few scores and we put ourselves under pressure by not getting those scores,” he said.
It all started so well when Gavan O’Grady fielded excellently and he fed Darran O’Sullivan who buried it high to the net. The Glenbeigh/Glencar duo looked like ending the contest when they combined for the next score.
East Kerry were living off scraps and looked down and out. After 25 minutes they called on their saviour and Moynihan changed the game. A series of cameos, nothing more eye catching than a turnover in the second half on Gary Sayers, would have gone unnoticed from most players but it provided East Kerry with the inspiration to battle on.
Points started to trickle over and Anthony O’Sullivan and Jeff O’Donoghue set up former Mid Kerryman Alfie Giles to find the net and leave it 1-3 apiece at the break.
When Andrew Garnett and Niall O’Mahony added points after the interval a shock was on the cards. But when Colm Kerins, Sean O’Sullivan, O’Grady and Declan O’Sullvan all scored points the Mid side settled again and looked home, if not hosed.
That was until Michael O’Donoghue, who looked a threat in possession throughout, and Cormac Cronin pulled East Kerry level again, 1-7 to 1-7 at the end of normal time.
By that stage though Moynihan had been doing the simple things right for 35 minutes and he and his team-mates were spent for extra time.
Three O’Grady scores and a couple from Sean O’Sullivan, including a beauty from the sideline, ensured their passage to the final but their struggle for victory also enhanced the legend of a hero.
Scorers for Mid Kerry: G O’Grady 0-5 (3fs), D O’Sullivan 1-2, S O’Sullivan 0-4 (2fs, 1s/l), C Kerins 0-1.
Scorers for East Kerry: A Giles 1-0, M O’Donoghue 0-2, J O’Donoghue (45), B Russell, C Cronin, A Garnett, N O’Mahony 0-1 each.
MID KERRY: M Moriarty (Beaufort); A Cahillane (Keel), F Griffin (Glenbeigh/Glencar), G Hartnett (Beaufort); P Kilkenny (Glenbeigh/Glencar), Donnchadh Walsh (Cromane), B Murphy (Glenbeigh/Glencar); M Burke (Milltown/Castlemaine), B Delaney (Milltown/Castlemaine); G Sayers (Keel), C Kerins (Milltown/Castlemaine), S O’Sullivan (Cromane); G O’Grady (Glenbeigh/Glencar), D O’Sullivan (Glenbeigh/Glencar), J Flynn (Milltown/Castlemaine).
Subs: M Mangan (Milltown/a) for Delaney (40), S Murphy (Milltown/Castlemaine) for Sayers (46), C Moriarty (Milltown/Castlemaine) for Flynn (51), K McKenna for Kilkenny (58), Colin McGillicuddy for Burke (78).
EAST KERRY: C Myers (Fossa); B Gleeson (Spa), J Hayes (Firies), M Culloty (Glenlesk); D O’Sullivan (Spa), B Russell (Spa), E Cronin (Spa); A Garnett (Spa), J Sherwood (Firies); N O’Mahony (Spa), A O’Sullivan (Spa), A Giles (Spa); J O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), M O’Donoghue (capt, Spa), D Ahern.
Subs: S Moynihan (Glenflesk) for Culloty (25), S Dennehy (Glenflesk) for J O’Donoghue (ht), D O’Sullivan (Fossa) for A O’Sullivan (37), C Cronin (Spa) for Giles (49), C O’Shea (Firies) for Dennehy (60), S Brosnan (Listry) for Ahern (75), J O’Donoghue for Garnett (75).
Referee: J Lynch (Ballymacelligott).